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Holiday Meals for Heroes offers support to families of fallen first responders

Holiday Meals for Heroes offers support to families of fallen first responders
Holiday Meals for Heroes offers support to families of fallen first responders 01:52

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (CBS) -- Grieving families found food and support Wednesday, in time for Thanksgiving, thanks to Holiday Meals for Heroes. 

"The holidays are really tough," Judy Cassidy said.

She lost her husband, Philadelphia police officer Chuck Cassidy, when he was shot and killed in the line of duty on Halloween in 2007. However, she caught up with good friends at the Holiday Meals for Heroes breakfast. 


"It's kind of uplifting coming to these things to see all the support that we still get from everybody, so it's pretty nice," Cassidy said. 

She is grateful for James Binns' dedication, who is the president and CEO of Holiday Meals for Heroes. 

"This is the 16th year I've been doing it," Binns said. 

Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, the group offers families a way out of their deep grief, even if it is only for a few hours. 


"They have that one thing in common, which nobody else has with them. So, it's a wonderful way for them to interact with one another," Binns said.

Nearby, a big picture of fallen Delaware State Police Officer Stephen Ballard stood as a big reminder of past Thanksgiving holidays for Louise Cummings.


"Working shift work, a lot of times, he was working on Thanksgiving," Cummings said. 

But now, the widow must face more holidays without him ever coming back home. 

"He was killed in the line of duty on April 26, 2017, in Delaware," she said. 

Still, Ballard's memory lived on along with those of others from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Cummings found support but said she was happy to give support as well. 

"And just share stories and hear their stories and hear how they've coped, and you know, things they are still going through. So, it's just nice to all be together," Cummings said. 

More support was packed up and sent with the families in the form of meal boxes for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Kim Pawlowski, widow of fallen Philadelphia Police Officer John Pawlowski, was thankful for some face-to-face time with friends. 

"A lot of us keep in contact throughout the year," Pawlowski said. "We always have each other's backs and you get text messages once in awhile just when our loved one's anniversary comes up."

Binns said this was about more than food. It was about walking through tragedy to find a new community. 

"They belong to the worst club in the world, which is made up of the finest people in the world," he said. 

These families can look forward to even more support soon. Holiday Meals for Heroes will also offer dinners for Christmas. 

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